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Chivalry must not die

We love weddings in the country. Weddings are usually a very lively and happy affair. Weddings have become big business and a lot of innovations around weddings keep surfacing every other day. The decoration, the photography and videography, the make–up, the fashion, the cake, the food and all have offered opportunities for people to become creative while making money from other people’s dreams of holy matrimony.

We have been in the wedding season where we have weddings every other weekend for a while. While for some, a wedding is an opportunity to get the spotlight and show off to society about how much they can spend or the trophy monsieur or madame they have landed, for others it is exactly what it is supposed to be, a symbol for a serious life time commitment made to someone held dearly. Our reasons for entering marriage are not always as orthodox as expected; human beings can be quite creative.

Regardless of reasons, one thing that characterises the process to a wedding and marriage is the several ceremonies that take place before the big day. Some spice it up with events like bridal showers and send-offs, hen parties and bachelor’s parties and nowadays, the innovative cocktail of symbolic photo shoots.

The initial steps usually involve parties from both sides getting to know each other, followed by the groom’s side visiting the bride’s side to ask for her hand in marriage and then an engagement or a lobola ceremony takes place.

One thing for certain is that from around the time these activities start happening to the day of the wedding, elders and the church come in to play a crucial role in preparing the couple for marriage. Most couples will be committed to couple’s counselling as part of protocol to follow through till the big day. Most families do organise counselling so does the church.

However, it is evident that the grooming and counselling focuses more on the woman.

Robust etiquette and counselling sessions are usually organised for the women involved. You can find a woman going through several counselling sessions organised by various stakeholders while a man only goes through one.

Actually, from a young age in this country, women are subject to many expectations that allude to marriage; they are expected to conduct themselves in a certain way so they can ensure that they are ‘marriage material’ and they are expected to get married as soon as the opportunity arises. Period!

Apparently, one of the reasons this is so is that mkazi ndi amene amamanga banja (it is the woman that keeps the family together), a very common Malawi saying that is thrown around marriage counselling and marital problems that arise even after marriage.

As much as this statement is good-willed, it ends up seeming misguided because most take it as meaning that only women have to put in work for a marriage to work and that success of the marriage completely hinges on the women. Some men are misled to believe that as long as they married the woman and do the bare minimum, then their work is done. They even expect praise for this bare minimum.

The pastor at church on a Mother’s Day Special Sermon preached about a virtuous woman but half the sermon was balanced by the support a man should give to uphold a virtuous woman and that it should not be expected that any relations between a man and a woman can work with only one party putting in work. So how come we only put so much effort in making sure a woman should be a good wife?

The flipside of the wedding season I opened with is that, as much as many people are enter into matrimony during these wedding seasons, there is an equal exodus out of it especially for young couples. It is about time the bar was raised higher for both men and women.

Young or old, step up the game. A lifetime commitment cannot hinge on only one party. Men should be groomed from a young age too to be husband material, to honour their commitments, to equally value their marriage, to be disciplined and well cultured, to guard their reputation. And of course they should be drilled while young lest we let chivalry die.

I rest my case.

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